Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

English | Français
Sequentia celebrates its 40th anniversary in March 2017




Katja Zimmermann

(exclusive of Europe)

Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
4592 Hampton Ave.
Montréal, QC, Canada
Tel: 514-467-5052


Follow us on Facebook

Program Archive

Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper

IV. The Harper in the Underworld

Felix qui potuit boni

(Rhineland, early 11c)

Another song from the "Consolation of Philosophy" of Boethius. It tells the story of the mythological singer and harper Orpheus, describing his daring voyage into the realm of the dead to rescue his beloved wife, Eurydice, through the power of song. The fact that this song turns up in the Rhineland harper's collection attests to the power of the Orpheus myth in musical circles throughout the early Middle Ages.

Text: (Refrain:) Happy is he who can look into the shining spring of goodness; happy is he who can break the heavy chains of earth.

Long ago the Thracian poet, Orpheus, mourned for his dead wife. With his sorrowful music he made the woodlands dance and the rivers stand still. He made the fearful deer lie down bravely with the fierce lions; the rabbit no longer feared the dog, quieted by his song.

But as the sorrow burned within his breast, the music which calmed all nature could not console its maker. Finding the gods unbending, he went to the regions of hell. There, he sang sweet songs to the music of his harp...songs inspired by his powerless grief and the love which doubled his grief. Hell is moved to pity when, with his melodious prayer, he begs the favour of those shades. The three-headed guardian of the gate is paralyzed by that new song; and the Furies are touched and weep in pity....At last, the judge of souls, moved by pity, declares, "We are conquered. We return this man to his wife, his companion, purchased by his song. But our gift is bound by the condition that he must not look back until he has left hell."But who can give lovers a law? Love is a stronger law unto itself. As they approached the edge of night, Orpheus looked back at Eurydice, lost her, and killed her.

This fable applies to all of you who seek to raise your minds to sovreign day. For whoever is conquered and turns his eyes to the pit of hell, looking into the inferno, loses all the good he has gained.

(Translation: Richard Green [abridged])

Upcoming Concerts

30 September 2018
New York City (Music Before 1800)

17 October 2018
London (British Library)

7 December 2018
Amherst, MA / Amherst College
Monks singing pagans

14 December 2018
Gdansk, Poland / Actus Humanus Nativitas
Monks singing pagans

See full concert schedule



Benjamin Bagby's teaching activities in 2018

In addition to his teaching position at the University of Paris - Sorbonne, where he has taught since 2005 in the professional masters program, Benjamin Bagby travels widely in 2018 to teach other practical workshops for young professionals:

Milano, Scuola Civica di Musica (Milano, Italy) 29-31 January
The troubadours of the Milano manuscript R71 sup. (late 13th century)

Folkwang Universität der Künste (Essen-Werden, Germany) April-June
Benjamin will join the faculty of this renowned masters program for liturgical chant performance and medieval music, specializing this year in music from Notre Dame of Paris. The dates of his courses: 13-14 April, 18-20 May, 28-30 May and 15-17 June. More information

Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Basel, Switzerland) 25-26 May

7th International Course on Medieval Music Performance (Besalú, Spain) .
Music relating to the idea of the Crusades, especially in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

Amherst Early Music Festival (Connecticut College, New London CT) 15-21 July
An intensive course on the Roman de Fauvel (14th century)
July 21, 2018, 1 pm "Roman de Fauvel project" (student performance)

Burg Fürsteneck, Germany (31 August to 02 September
Fortbildung zur Musik des Mittelalters / Roman de Fauvel (guest instructor)

More news